The way people interact with business is changing. Thanks to new technologies, we live in a hyper-connected world that enables customers to engage with business services at any time and across multiple platforms. Consequently, customers now have more control and input over how and with whom they do business. So how do companies and organisations keep up with, and appeal to, this new kind of savvy customer?
The customer evolution
One answer lies in the rapid adoption of digital platforms to accelerate customer interaction and also improve operational efficiency. Workflow automation is quickly becoming mainstream in core areas of business; one such area is sales and marketing functions. Sales Force Automation, or SFA, automates business tasks such as sales activity, inventory, forecasting, customer tracking and marketing. Data collected from the programs is analysed and used to inform an organisation’s customer relationship management strategy. SFA is a technology trend that has accelerated in recent years in both small and large organisations.
“We are living in a time of accelerated disruption right across society and in particular in business,” explains Deloitte Digital Director, Matt Campion. “Sales Force Automation essentially helps organisations sell more effectively by leveraging technology in smart and efficient ways to allow business people to spend more time with customers and less time on manual tasks.”
“Technology plays a large enabling role in accelerating disruption … These changes are driven by the continual need to deliver on ever-increasing customer expectations …”
Campion graduated with an MBA from the Curtin Graduate School of Business in 2007, and has since accrued a wealth of experience as a leader in digital transformations within private and public organisations.
He says the rise of technology, combined with global trends such as economic down turns, population increase and dwindling resources, have forced organisations to rethink the way they operate and relate to their customers.
“Technology plays a large enabling role in accelerating disruption, as we have seen with the rise of the sharing economy, social media and digital currencies. In large part, these changes are driven by the continual need to deliver on ever-increasing customer expectations in an efficient way that delivers long-term value for customers and organisations,” he says.
Private driver service Uber, which originally began as a competitor for the black limousine car service in San Francisco in 2011, swiftly transitioned to automating the majority of its services, and now rivals taxis in more than 500 cities worldwide.
Customers order and pay for a car exclusively online through the Uber app, and destinations are navigated using GPS, which enables Uber to provide them with a reliable, convenient and affordable service. The automation has innovated the private driver industry and forced traditional driving services to re-evaluate the quality of their customer service.
Public sector operations
“The approach of governments to date has been to tell citizens, ‘there’s a form for that.’ Well, it’s time to start saying, ‘there’s an app for that.'”
It’s not just the private sector undergoing digital disruption – the way we use public services is also changing. According to a 2016 Deloitte Digital white paper co-authored by Campion and his Deloitte colleague, Callam Porch , the volume of online government service requests lodged by Australians is predicted to increase by 158 million within the next ten years, so it has become critical for the Australian government to re-evaluate its data operations and delivery.
In 2015 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (then the Minister for Communications), addressed the issue along with former US Government CIO, Vivek Kundra, stating: “The approach of governments to date has been to tell citizens, ‘there’s a form for that.’ Well, it’s time to start saying, ‘there’s an app for that.”
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has responded to the challenge, employing Campion’s team at Deloitte Digital to help transform its service delivery.
Together they have developed MyQBCC, an online portal that Campion says “allows any home-owner, builder or other stakeholder in the building and construction industry in Queensland to create a secure account, submit queries, purchase home warranty insurance and provide general feedback.”
The portal provides customers with a more efficient service and faster processing times, and also allows for a dynamic exchange between QBCC and what customers want, so the program can constantly be improved.
Automating a business or organisation, however, does not guarantee its success nor make it valued by customers (think Centrelink’s automated debt recovery debacle). This is where people like Campion come in. His role is to assist organisations to quickly and effectively adopt and implement automated practices, and use the technology to continually innovate customer opportunities – a practice known as ‘agile thinking’.
According to Campion, music-streaming service Spotify is one of the best-known companies to have embraced agile thinking and developed a competitive advantage by doing so.
“Innovation is at the heart of Spotify’s competitive advantage as the leading streaming-music service, but it’ the agile delivery framework that is at the very core of this execution of innovation,” he says.
“Agile thinking is about being open, collaborative and innovative, prepared to develop, iterate and improve.”
In late November 2016, Spotify used data from its listeners to create quirky billboards that went up in cities across the UK, US, France and Germany. The billboards featured listener statistics, such as how many times a person played a particular song, as well as songs that were on high rotation at certain times of the year.
“To the 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it’ the day of the Brexit vote, hang in there”, read one billboard in London.
The billboards were an iconic and clever way to engage current and potential Spotify users, and also worked to personalise the company.
As we continue to play out our lives online, what is considered personal and public information, and who owns that information, has become difficult to determine.
Privacy in the digital age
Companies like Spotify that manage large amounts of customer data and personal information highlight what has become one of the most pressing and controversial issues of the digital age: privacy. As we continue to play out our lives online, what is considered personal and public information, and who owns that information, has become difficult to determine.
“In both the consumer and business space, we are seeing this become more and more of an issue for organisations,” says Campion. “Putting customers’ minds at ease that their personal details are safe is now a fundamental part of not just technology-focused companies, but many different industries in general.”
The future of business
With such instrumental changes occurring in the way we leverage technology in private and public services, it’s certainly an exciting time to be in business. Ironically though, Campion says non-technological skills and qualities will still be needed in the future.
“I believe [in] qualities such as the ability to think creatively, critical questioning, resilience and the ability to adapt to change,” says Campion. “Students need to understand how technology can be used to deliver customer value, however, it’s the most important reason to understand why the technology will be used and the business benefit it will deliver.”
While digital business is not without its challenges, at its core are people like Campion, who have the drive to provide customers with positive sales or service experience, and more control over how this can be achieved. At the end of the day, a happy customer is a returning customer, and that’s always good for business.
 ‘Building a single view of the customer – An Australian Government Transformational Case Study’; Campion, M, Porch, C, Tan, D 2016; slideshare.net/mattcampion/deloitte-digital-qbcc-white-paper
About Matt Campion
Matt Campion is an ‘Agile’ practitioner and a current Director at Deloitte Digital Australia.
He studied an MBA at the Curtin Graduate School of Business and during this time published multiple articles on Sales Force Automation and how it can transform business sales and customer services.
Since graduating from Curtin in 2007, Campion has worked in multiple consultancy and sales roles throughout the US and the Asia-Pacific region, including as a senior consultant for salesforce.com, a global company in cloud customer relationship management, and as Director for the Quattro Innovation Group.